How To Freeze Dry Ice Cream Balls

How To Freeze Dry Ice Cream Balls


Freeze-dried Ice cream balls are a real treat for many who love sweets and desserts. Unlike their chilly, melty counterpart, they’re great to bring wherever you go. Here’s how to freeze dry ice cream balls so you’ll have a different dessert that is equally fun to eat with less mess.

What Flavor Should I Freeze-Dry?

You can freeze-dry almost any flavor except pure chocolate ones. So, if you got cookies & cream or mint chocolate chip cookies, those are fine. It’s true that chocolate doesn’t freeze-dry well. But those who freeze-dried these ice cream flavors found good success. Mind you, that will considerably lessen the freeze-dried ice cream’s shelf-life.

Should I Go for Low-Cost or Premium

Choosing between economy, regular, premium, and super premium? There are some factors to consider regarding flavor, quality, and ingredients. But the major one is the overrun, which is the amount of air whipped into the product during the freezing process.

Low-Cost Ice Cream

Low-cost ice cream is easier to handle. It’s softer because, for one, it has more air in it. Usually, this makes it also easier to freeze-dry because you have a lot of room for the vapor to come out. The only downside is that because of the air volume, it will melt faster.

Regular Ice Cream

Regular ice cream typically has 10%-11% butterfat and has 90% to 100% overrun. It’s also easier to freeze-dry but does melt fast.

Premium Ice Cream

You can tell it’s better with the texture and density, right? Because premium ice cream has a higher fat content and higher quality ingredients. You get 11%-15% of butter fat, with a 60%-90% overrun. That’s why it’s almost impossible to scoop out when it’s frozen unless you let it sit on the counter.

Super Premium Ice Cream

Think high fat, low overrun. The reason why super-premium ice cream is so indulgent is because it’s got 11%-15% butter fat. It’s denser with fewer ice crystals because it has a 60%-90% overrun.


Why Is Quality Important In Freeze-Drying Ice Cream Balls?

The quality will dictate your system on how to freeze-dry it. It’s not like your typical peach, cherry, or pear that you just prepare and put on trays.

Ice cream melts, and the more overrun it has, the faster it will reach an unidentifiable gloopy mass. The fat content will also determine the shelf-life, which is important when storing food outside cold storage.

Another is the quality of the finished product. Low-cost ice cream results in freeze-dried dessert balls that are airier, fluffier, and easier to bite. That’s because they have more air pockets and are not that creamy. Premium ice cream, on the other hand, is denser and creamier. Not rock-hard, mind you, like freeze-dried Tootsie Rolls. But you can tell the difference when you get to compare the two.


How Do I Prepare the Freeze-Dried Ice Cream Balls?

When preparing to freeze-dry your ice cream balls, you need to have two things: Speed and patience.

You must move fast because the ice cream will melt as you go. Especially if you got the low-cost and regular ones. Next thing you know, you got a messy puddle of sticky goo all over your tray. But once you got a system, you’ll get things done easily.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Tools are your best friends when you’re freeze-drying ice cream balls. You’ll need:

  • Trays – to gather the scoops of ice cream easily.
  • Extra small cookie scooper (1 tsp size) – much faster to work with than a melon baller because it “sweeps” out the ice cream.
  • Parchment paper – makes it easy to remove the ice cream from the trays.
  • A bowl/tub of water – to prevent buildup and keep your scooper smooth and easy to work with.
  • Gloves – to help keep your food clean and make it easier for you to push the product out of the scooper.

Step 2: Freeze Your Trays

Before you do anything else, you must freeze your trays where you plan to make your ice cream balls or freeze-dry them. Some prefer to work with their freeze dryer trays, others on separate trays.

A separate tray is helpful if you don’t have any spare freeze-dryer trays. On the other hand, using freeze-dryer trays helps cut 5-20 minutes out of your process.

Freezing the trays should take 24-48 hours. The longer they sit in the freezer, the better. Just remember to wear gloves when handling frozen trays to keep your hands safe and protected.

Step 3: Work In A Cool Environment As Much As Possible.

This can be a challenge, especially during the summer. But a cold room can help extend your work time and give you more freedom to work. If it’s near where your freezer is, all the better. You’ll be moving to and from your workstation to the freezer while you get the hang of scooping the ice cream.

Step 4: Soften The Ice Cream

Put the ice cream in the fridge for an hour at least to make it workable without melting the sides. You know it’s ready when you can use your mini ice cream scooper without using too much force.

Step 5: Prepare All Your Tools

Once you’re ready to work, set up your workstation. Organize it so that you can work seamlessly as you fill the trays.

Step 6: Scoop the Ice Cream On The Trays

Scoop the product and unload it on the trays using your mini scooper. Then, use your other hand to help push out the dessert and arrange it on the trays.

Remember to position the scooper where you want your food to drop. The less you handle the ice cream, the better.

Be alert to the consistency of the ice cream. If it’s starting to get too soft, put it back in the freezer for 15-30 minutes to stop it from melting. Same with your prepared trays once you start to see signs of melting.

It will take some practice until you fill one tray without resting. Take your time because a soft, melted ice cream will produce a poor product. How bad? For one, you’ll get deformed freeze-dried ice cream balls. Second, is the poor texture. Soft ice cream will give rise to large ice crystals that make the freeze-dried ice cream balls too dry and rough.

Step 7: Store The Loaded Trays In The Freezer

Once you finish all the ice cream and loaded all the trays, put the trays back inside the freezer. Harvest Right recommends that you freeze food for at least 48 hours for better processing. Once the ice cream is fully frozen, it’s time to start freeze-drying.

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How To Freeze Dry Ice Cream Balls

It’s easy to freeze-dry ice cream balls as long as you prepped your machine right. Pre-cooling is a must because some experienced melting and frothing of their product in the chamber. Imagine all that hard work of painstakingly lining up the ice cream balls gone to waste.

Pre-Cooling the Unit

Different freeze-dryer software needs different methods of pre-cooling. For old software:

  1. Turn on the unit and press “CUSTOMIZE”.
  2. Set the “Initial Freeze” to as low as cold as it can go.
  3. For the “Dry Temperature,” set it to 125 °F (52 °C).
  4. Let the unit pre-cool. The standard is usually 15-30 minutes. If you have an extra thermometer, that would help too. Don’t load the trays until the chamber is at least -40 °F (-40 °C). This can take up to 3 hours, depending on how hot the room is.

New Software

Setting up the new software is the same. However, some said that they can’t set the pre-cooling temperature. What you can do is don’t load the trays yet when the machine tells you to. Instead, keep the freeze-dryer going until the chamber is -40 °F (-40 °C).

Once your chamber’s pre-cooled properly, load the trays, then close the drain valve. All that’s left is to wait for the unit to finish freeze-drying.

How Long Does It Take To Freeze-Dry Ice Cream Balls?

Freeze-drying ice cream balls should take about 32 hours on fully loaded trays. Test when the trays are still warm to know if they’re done. Don’t wait for the unit to cool down and create ice crystals. If any freeze-dried ice cream balls feel cool, soft, and moist in the center, give it 2-3 hours of extra dry time.

How Do I Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Ice Cream Balls?

This is a sweet treat that doesn’t do well to rehydrate. You’ll end up with a melted mess you wouldn’t appreciate eating. If you try to freeze it after rehydrating, you’ll get ice cream full of ice crystals and not enjoyable to eat. But they will give fantastic flavor when added to shakes and smoothies!

How Long Does Freeze-Dried Ice Cream Balls Last?

Freeze-dried ice cream balls can last you 25 years at room temperature.

How Do I Store Them?

Free-dried ice cream balls can be stored using Mason Jars or Mylar bags. Put 1-2 of the 300cc oxygen absorber packets before sealing to help maintain the shelf life. Keep the containers in a cool, dry, dark, damp-free place lower than 72°F (22 °C). The relative humidity should also be 15% or less.


Freeze-drying ice cream balls can be a process at first. But once you get the hang of it, it will be so easy, you can do it fast without having to pause and re-freeze your ice cream.

The chamber temperature is also important. The colder it is before you put in the trays, the higher the success rate.

What flavors of freeze-dried ice cream would you try out? Let us know in the comment section.

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